SALT LAKE CITY — Primary Children's Hospital is one of 25 pediatric hospitals in 25 states that, thanks to a large donation, will receive help for families with patients facing costly childhood cancer diagnoses.
Boston-based Family Reach, which works to alleviate the financial burden of cancer for families throughout the country, announced the $5 million gift from AbbVie pharmaceutical company at the Biden Cancer Summit in Washington, D.C.
It is the largest donation ever received by the national nonprofit and it will be used to provide pro-bono financial planning, grants and financial assistance to families in need.
"Cancer-related financial toxicity is a national crisis hiding in plain sight," said Family Reach's Michelle DeLuties, adding that 1 in every 3 families who has a child with cancer struggles to pay their bills.
"There are families in your community dealing with this right now," she said.
The $5 million donation will help Family Reach expand the scope of its existing support programs to assist 4,400 additional families across the United States, as well as launch new programs and hire more social workers and nurse navigators to reach more patients.
"Families dealing with cancer need more than a cure," said Carla Tardif, CEO of Family Reach. "We see the financial struggles families with cancer face every day and the dangerous decisions it forces them to make; do they pay their heating bill or put food on the table?"
Tardif said financial barriers can directly impact a patient's survival rate, restricting access to potentially life-saving treatments.
Families not only experience costly medical bills, but miss out on work to be with their children and face increased out-of-pocket costs associated with travel and basic needs.
The financial toxicity that results contributes to reduced quality of life, increased psychosocial hardship, poor treatment adherence and decreased survival, according to AbbVie, a research-based, global biopharmaceutical company. The company believes "a child's chances of overcoming cancer should never be jeopardized by financial barriers."
"With AbbVie's support, Family Reach can build upon our support programs that will impact families chances of making it to the other side of cancer," Tardif said.
Family Reach, which works with more than 300 hospitals and cancer treatment centers in the country, will work with oncology social workers at Primary Children's Hospital to find patient families in most need of financial assistance.
"Family Reach's innovative and collaborative multi-pronged model is designed to offer solutions that improve the patient's financial experience during cancer treatment, manage debt and household material hardship, and maintain access to treatment," an AbbVie release about the donation states.
In addition to Primary Children's Hospital, 16 other hospitals in the Family Reach Network will receive funds to help additional families, with eight more hospitals to be named in 2019.
Family Reach and AbbVie estimate the outreach will help 200,000 people in the next two years, with even more impacted by the educational programs and resources developed during that time.